With 82 cases, Central Ohio measles outbreak leads U.S.
The country's largest measles outbreak is happening in Central Ohio — with no signs of slowing down.
- Of the 117 nationwide cases reported as of Dec. 22, 70% were in Franklin County.
Why it matters: Until this outbreak, our area hadn't confirmed a measles case in 20 years.
- The highly contagious respiratory disease was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, but dipping vaccine rates during the pandemic have revived it among unvaccinated pockets.
Threat level: The CDC and WHO said last month that measles is "an imminent threat in every region of the world," Axios' Jacob Knuston reports.
- Symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes, with a signature rash appearing three to five days later.
- Serious complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis are possible.
By the numbers: Of the 82 local cases confirmed as of Thursday, none were fully vaccinated and 39% were hospitalized.
- All are kids younger than 18.
- 28% are under 1 year old, meaning they're too young to be vaccinated and were relying on herd immunity for protection.
State of play: Measles likely arrived in Columbus after four unvaccinated travelers separately went to measles-endemic countries from June to October, Columbus Public Health commissioner Mysheika Roberts tells Axios.
- The CDC was here for the two weeks after Thanksgiving and is offering support.
Of note: The two-dose measles vaccine is 97% effective.
- The challenge is reaching the small number of Central Ohioans spreading the virus by not vaccinating their children.
What they're saying: "It's very frustrating, knowing that it's preventable with a vaccine — a safe, effective, accessible vaccine," Roberts says.
- The health department is ready to administer shots, but only half a dozen parents have brought kids in since the outbreak started this fall.
What we're watching: Measles is easily spread in public places and symptoms can develop up to 21 days after exposure.
- An outbreak isn't declared over until 42 days after the last infected person develops a rash — meaning it could be months before this is considered under control locally.
This story has been updated to reflect the most recent case numbers.
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